Amid rumours that Lloyds is to move out of the “Inside-Out Building”, we ask: should you set up office in an iconic building?
With its shining steel exterior, the Lloyds building has to be one of the most recognisable buildings in London. A prime example of high-tech architecture, it still looks futuristic today, more than 35 years after it was completed. Such is its importance as an iconic building that it was designated Grade I listed status by English Heritage in 2011.
But, if the latest rumours are to be believed, Lloyds is looking for alternative accommodation. The fact that the organisation no longer fills all the space, subletting the remainder, is one reason believed to be behind the potential move.
However another, suggested by the Sunday Times, is the building’s unusual design itself.
Having the lifts, pipes and air-conditioning on the outside might create extra space and a striking atrium on the inside, but it has also made the building costly to maintain compared with twenty-first century designs.
The challenges of cutting-edge design
On a more positive note, it’s taken more than three decades for the alleged drawbacks of the Lloyds building to emerge. Other more recent iconic buildings haven’t been quite so lucky. The Walkie-Talkie hadn’t yet reached completion when it was discovered that the building’s unusual shape caused an equally unusual and unexpected problem. During the summer heat wave, sun rays reflected off the convex surface with such intensity that they were capable of melting cars parked nearby.
As for the ever-popular Gherkin, the building’s original architect, Ken Shuttleworth, recently suggested that the era of the glass skyscraper may be over. Speaking to the BBC, Shuttleworth pointed to the environmental implications of heating and cooling large glass structures, saying that the time for building Gherkin-style towers had passed.
Skyscrapers – a branding opportunity
Design isn’t the only reason to pause before signing on that iconic space. Landmark buildings attract attention and are much more likely to generate column inches in the media (and tweets on Twitter) than their blander and less easily identifiable counterparts. For some companies, that iconic, 200m skyscraper is also a giant branding opportunity.
Take the recent name change of Heron Tower to Salesforce Tower in a deal with the skyscraper’s largest tenant. It’s great news for Salesforce, but how has the news been received by the building’s other tenants? Will they be so keen to add the new address to their business correspondence?
Iconic buildings – still worth it?
Undoubtedly, being based in an iconic building comes with a price, in the form of unexpected changes or even challenges. But perhaps that’s not such a surprise, when you’re at the cutting edge of design, in one of the most talked about buildings in the world. There’s two benefits right there which are still worth having.
After all, the potential drawbacks haven’t deterred Lloyds. The company is rumoured to be in talks to take space in the forthcoming “Gotham City” skyscraper. Iconic architecture may still be worth it after all.
Would you base your offices in an iconic building? Or do the risks outweigh the benefits?